When is the Rose Bowl a cheap thrill?

Is it possible to think playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day is the end to a lame season?

For fans of the University of Oregon it might be a challenge to get hyped for that prospect, even if they'd get to the game by winning the Pac-12 Conference title over Utah - potentially keeping the Utes from a College Football Playoff berth.

Oregon hasn't played in the Rose Bowl since 2015 when it was the semifinals of the playoffs - a rousing 59-20 win over Florida State.

In fact, since the rebirth of the Oregon program to the national level that closed with the 1995 Rose Bowl, the Ducks have played in the Rose Bowl only four times. So, getting to the game is a true victory for the program.

It should be, anyway, but not this year.

After the 31-28 shellacking at Arizona State Saturday, Oregon's best finish would be in the Rose Bowl, likely against Penn State. That would be following a win over Utah in the conference title game, Dec. 6, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Even though the score was just a thre-point loss, the "shellacking" would be the feel for fans following a loss to an ASU team that lost to Oregon State the week before. With a No. 6 spot in the CFP rankings, Oregon had hopes for a semifinal berth and chance to win a national championship entering the game.

But, a horribly subpar performance by both the Oregon offense and defense allowed the Sun Devils to record a huge upset, handing the Ducks a second loss from a team starting a freshman at quarterback.

Oregon finishes the regular season at home Saturday against Oregon State, then gets to the post season against Utah, which has lost only to USC.